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Twitter handle: @EdmProspects
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HOME BALLPARK: RE/MAX Field; opened in 1995 as Telus Field; 8,100 capacity
The Prospects had the second-highest attendance in the Western Major Baseball League (WMBL) last year, welcoming 38,399 fans through the gates during 23 regular-season home games. An average of 1,670 fans attended those games, but that number climbed to a per-game attendance of 1,866 during the team’s six home playoff dates. When you combine the regular season and playoff crowd figures, the grand total for attendance was 49,597.
Edmonton’s mascot is named Homer. If the picture didn’t give it away, Homer is a big baseball with arms and legs and a ballcap that says … you guessed it, Homer!
This mascot gig is nothing new to Homer, whose origins go all the way back to the days of the Edmonton Trappers. Learn more about this Edmonton sports icon’s history here.
SAVE THE DATES
- Thursday, May 31 – Home Opener vs. Lethbridge Bulls
- Sunday, June 3 – Minor Baseball vs. Okotoks Dawgs
- Friday, June 8 – Blue Jays Day vs. Fort McMurray Giants
- Saturday, June 9 – Crown Jewel vs. Fort McMurray Giants
- Saturday, June 16 – Pride Night vs. Lethbridge Bulls
- Sunday, June 17 – Father’s Day vs. Lethbridge Bulls
- Monday, June 18 – Kids Fun Day vs. Medicine Hat Mavericks
- Wednesday, June 27 – School’s Out vs. Okotoks Dawgs
- Saturday, June 30 – Post-Secondary vs. Melville Millionaires
- Sunday, July 1 – Canada Day vs. Brooks Bombers
- Friday, July 13 – Star Wars vs. Yorkton Cardinals
- Saturday, July 14 – Military Day vs. Brooks Bombers
- Sunday, July 15 – RE/MAX Family vs. Brooks Bombers
- Wednesday, July 18 – Faith & Family vs. Medicine Hat Mavericks
- Thursday, July 19 – Business Meets Ball vs. Medicine Hat Mavericks
- Friday, July 20 – Trappers vs. Regina Red Sox
- Saturday, July 28 – Country Night vs. Fort McMurray Giants
- Sunday, July 29 – Fan Appreciation vs. Fort McMurray Giants
View full schedule here.
PEANUTS & CRACKER JACK
“We’ve partnered with food vendors to enhance the experience of our fans,” said Jordan Blundell, assistant general manager of the Prospects.
“Our menu features classic ballpark food, as well as something a bit different with Montreal smoked meat sandwiches and poutine.”
Food vendors for the Edmonton Prospects include Drift Food Truck & Eatery, Panda Hut Express and River City Cookie Co.
There will be some familiar faces in the Prospects dugout once again this season. Head coach Ray Brown and assistant coach Orv Franchuk came aboard in 2014 and they’ve been joined at the hip since. The experience both men bring to Edmonton is remarkable.
Franchuk has a 2004 World Series ring from his time as a minor league hitting coordinator with the Boston Red Sox. His MLB resume also includes time with the Cincinnati Reds, Anaheim Angels, Oakland Athletics, Houston Astros, Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres. The former public school teacher served as the hitting and catching coordinator for the Triple-A Edmonton Trappers for 8 years. Franchuk played minor pro ball as a catcher in the Western Canadian League in the 1970s and, before joining the Prospects, he managed the Edmonton Capitals of the independent North American League in 2011.
Brown, meanwhile, has an equally impressive resume. He has scouted for the Boston Red Sox, Chicago White Sox, Seattle Mariners, Montreal Expos, Los Angeles Dodgers and the San Diego Padres. The former pitcher and pitching coach for Cal-State University at Long Beach was the first person to pitch a perfect game in the California League, and he also played with Franchuk on the Edmonton Tigers in the Western Canadian League. Brown also helped develop baseball programs in the Oceania region and Italy.
After an average regular season, which saw the Prospects win 24 games and lose 24 games, the team caught fire in the post-season. They started their playoff run with an upset win over a powerhouse Okotoks Dawgs team in five games. Edmonton then defeated the Medicine Hat Mavericks in four games, winning the right to represent the Western Division in the WMBL championship final.
It was the second straight season that Edmonton made it to the WMBL finals, and there was a familiar foe waiting for them at the end. Swift Current swept the Prospects in three games in 2016, but Edmonton was determined to produce a different outcome in 2017. The Prospects were able to avoid a sweep, but the 57s ultimately prevailed in five games.
Back-to-back Western Division champions in 2016 and 2017
EXPECTATIONS FOR THIS SEASON
Blundell says there are two major expectations for the 2018 season. One is to improve the team’s regular season record. The second is simple: “Win the last game of the summer.”
Several key returning players will be back with the Prospects this season. Erik Sabrowski, who was a force at the plate and on the mound last summer, will be one of them. Sabrowski led the Prospects pitching staff in strikeouts, with 50, and hit .339. He was also named as a first-team WMBL All Star as a designated hitter and a second-team WMBL All Star as a starting pitcher.
Sabrowski is coming off a highly successful season at Cloud County Community College, where he went 7-2, with a 3.14 ERA and 117 strikeouts over 66 innings. The strikeout total established a new school record and Sabrowski was also named the Jayhawk Conference West Division Pitcher of the Year.
Jake Lanferman will also be back this summer, patrolling the outfield. Lanferman led the Prospects in RBI in 2017, producing 27 in 44 regular-season games. He is coming off a campaign at the University of British Columbia that saw him steal 12 bases, score 38 runs and contribute 27 RBI over 49 games.
Shortstop Zane Takhar will be back at RE/MAX Field, as well. Takhar was a consistent hitter for the Prospects, batting .344 through the regular season and the playoffs. At Northeastern State, Takhar led the RiverHawks with a .410 on-base percentage. He also led the team in stolen bases by swiping 10 bags.
Edmonton’s infield will welcome some new faces this season, including shortstop Kobe Hyland, second baseman Daylen Calicdan and first baseman Riley Jepson.
Hyland, who played seven games for the Okotoks Dawgs last summer, is no stranger to baseball in the Edmonton area. Originally from Spruce Grove, the lefty batter attended Prospects Academy in St. Albert. He spent his fall and winter attending Iowa Western Community College, where he batted .379, stole 8 bases, scored 52 runs and put up 29 RBI over 44 games for the Reivers.
Someone a bit less familiar with Edmonton will be Calicdan, who was born in Hilo, Hawaii and is coming off his freshman year at the University of Hawaii.
Jepson joins the Prospects after spending his most recent season with the University of the Fraser Valley, of the Canadian College Baseball Conference (CCBC). The 21-year-old, who is also a skilled hockey player, had a ridiculous batting average of .486, along with 25 RBI and 24 runs over 30 games with the Cascades.
Edmonton will also welcome right-handed pitcher Rich Walker to the fold. Walker made 16 appearances for Mesa Community College this fall/winter. He started just two games but recorded six wins and four losses. Over 45.2 innings pitched, the 6-foot tall Arizona native struck out 36 batters and had an earned run average of 4.14.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Sabrowski is an obvious choice here. “He’s a middle of the order bat and a team leader,” notes Blundell.
Matt Coutney is another player to keep an eye on. The third baseman is returning from a very impressive freshman campaign with the Colby Community College Trojans. Over 52 games, he smacked 12 home runs, scored 60 runs, drove in 54 runs and put up a .431 batting average.
Southpaw starting pitcher Taran Oulton – born in Calgary and raised in St. Albert – had a breakout season with the William Woods University Owls. Over 93.2 innings, he picked up nine wins, K’ed 81 batters and recorded a 2.31 ERA.
Several other Prospects players will need to contribute for Edmonton to make it back to the WMBL final this year. The team’s full roster can be viewed here.
KEY REASONS TO GO TO THE BALLPARK THIS SEASON
This is a pivotal year for the Edmonton Prospects and their home diamond. The River Crossing area of Edmonton that is home to RE/MAX Field is facing a major redevelopment and the ballpark’s future is uncertain. Team owner Pat Cassidy issued a call to action at the team’s annual gala dinner this winter and urged fans to show up at Prospects games in large numbers to send a message that Edmonton truly is a baseball city.
The preservation and growth of baseball in the area should be a motivating factor for casual baseball fans in the city. But Blundell cites several other reasons for going to a game, too.
“The food experience is second to none in the summer collegiate circuit,” he says.
“RE/MAX Field is one of the best facilities in North America … and it’s home to an exciting and raucous fanbase.”